Red Sea Diving in Saudi Arabia
16 January 2019
Private resorts all along the northern coast offer the best access to the sea for shore diving. Some expatriates visiting Jeddah book a weekend diving package with a hotel in the city and nearly all Jeddah's hotels offer some kind of access to northern beaches by bus. The most popular are Al Nakeel Beach, Blue Beach, Sheraton Beach and the Al Bilad Beach. The top hotels in Jeddah have contacts with the dive shops and can arrange instruction for beginners and recreational dives for qualified divers. Many offer private beaches from which to shore dive.
You can also book space on one of the excursion boats that go out further to more colourful and secluded sections of the reef. You need to bring along a passport, Igama or Saudi ID and your Saudi Dive Permit.
"Are resident and visiting divers to Saudi Arabia aware that the regular PADI licence cards are no longer recognised, and that you require a Saudi-issued, Arabic language dive permit to dive here? I received mine, after much hassle trying to get it. Happy to share with anyone who needs to know."
"The padi, naui, bsac and any other dive card are now accepted no more need for Saudi dive card, if so we would be up the creek without a paddle when tourism starts again very soon."
Eric Mason, January 2019
A Saudi muslim female must have her legal escort (brother, husband etc).
For any diving emergencies in Saudi Arabia there two recompression chambers for the treatment of decompression sickness. One at Jubail Armed forces hospital KANB and the other in Jeddah. Both units have diving doctors who are on call 24 hours a day to deal with any diving emergencies.
"Dive Boats: Not much to do in Saudi so dive it is and the best way is to take a trip on a dive boat. There are many operators most of which cater for (generally) the locals. They have little else to do as well. I tend to use a new outfit called Bubble Divers which can be found on Facebook. Khaled the 'Captain' (all dive masters are called captains here) is a good bloke but his English is a little new. One thing you will get to realise that the boats are not the quiet boat trips you get elsewhere, they are noisy and quite cramped. The noise comes in the form of local music played at stupid levels which makes things uninteligiable. This generally doesn't last too long but can be quite annoying. The general price is 300sar per trip including air and food and drink. The food is good but sometimes you find you are sharing a boat with some local guys that find eating to be a hobby. They will devour all the food and drink within the first few hours leaving nothing for later. Greedy is not the word. The trip will usually last for 10 or 11 hours with a BBQ in the afternoon and the foods nice. Dont forget that you will need to take ID along as the captain will need to hand this in to the coast guard so you can officially leave. Its one of those stupid laws but you're not allowed to swim in the Red Sea if you're in KSA as you might want to leave the country, yeah just swim the 400 miles to Sudan..."
Glynne P, UK,20 September 2012
An effort to start dive tourism was made in 1990, by Saudi Airlines Station Manager for Germany, Harry Schiller. Saudia teamed up with the Al Bilad Hotel and the Al Saif, the first purpose built dive boat to operate in the kingdom - jointly owned by Dr Talal Bakr and Capt. Victor Organ - to provide dive packages. Brochures were printed but the Gulf War put the program on hold and it wasn't until early 1999 that Mr Schiller arrived with travel agents from across Europe for a familiarisation trip to Jeddah and Yanbu. The first dive group from Germany arrived in October that year at Durrant Al Arus and since then there have been other trips and tour groups.
Unfortunately, international tourism has now ceased after the Kingdom withdrew tourist visas.
There are numerous dive shops in Saudi Arabia. However, PADI and BSAC qualification cards are no longer recognised in Saudi Arabia: you need a Saudi-issued, Arabic language dive permit to dive.
For Dive Charters, daily, weekend, long weekend or extended range and scientific surveys.
"Dream Divers have closed their dive shops - the customers only wanted cheap cheap or spear guns and teaching became a joke. Someone will always do it cheaper. They now concentrate on Liveaboard depending on the time of Year in the Farasan Banks not to be confused with Farasan Islands, Rabiqh from Jeddah and Yanbu. It is wonderful diving Hammerheads, Tigers, Manta large turtle everything you could see in Jeddah 25 years ago, it is wonderful try it.
Dream Divers Jeddah they will organize your trip in partnership with Sea Demons Dive Club. "
Cire, January 2017
Farasan Banks 300 km South of Jeddah. Photo copyright Eric Mason.
"Having dived with a company called Dream Divers i will never again think "what has Saudi Arabia to offer?" Without question some of the most exiting diving I have ever done, and we have some good diving in Oman. Thanks to the Crew and Alex the Dive Master: I always felt safe even though the weather was rough."
"I dive with compagnia Dream diver to Farasan Bank: wonderful. Gratsi mille - many thanks - Eric, Capitano Levi and Alex."
"Have started diving with Dream Divers they are the most truthfull dive club in the area. They tell you what to expect and don't build it up to be what it is not. The only other thing I can say about them that if it is safe, if you are up to it, they will go for it. Too many of these clubs tell you where is good for them. And they do protect the reef. "
"I take training of SCUBA Diving from Dream Divers. They have good instructor one of them his name is Nelson Suan he is really great and now I am padi diver. I am planning to go on Dream Voyager, the only live aboard in Saudi Arabia."
Farasan Banks. Photo copyright Eric Mason.
"Jeddah, although overdived and overfished still has some beautiful coral reefs and not many boats. Dream Divers are offering the only two liveaboard Dive Boats in Saudi Arabia, number three arriving in May of 2006. We are working the Farasan Banks on the Southern Cruise and Yanbu, Ummludjje on the Northern cruise these areas are a gift from God with no other dive boats to be seen virgin reefs and numerous species of reef and pelagic fish to be seen the trips are weekend long weekend 7 or 14 days."
Eric Mason, Dream Divers
P.O. Box 50817
Tel: (+ 966 2) 656 1807
Fax: (+ 966 2) 656 1288
"I enjoyed diving with Desert Sea Divers on the Coral Garden. A combination of the late afternoon lighting and the spectacular size of the coral heads made the site particularly memorable. Visibility excellent and though fish species were diverse most were small and harmless...wonderful day."
Denise A. McCracken
P.O. Box 122015
Riyadh - Tel/Fax: +9661 4644134
Jubail - Tel/Fax: +9663 3615178
Yanbu - Tel/Fax: +9664 3968174
"I completed my Open Water Diver trained in the Red Sea, around Yanbu. Many of the Local boat owners will take Instructors and Groups of divewrs out for Two or Three dives in a day. A set of reefs called "The Seven Sisters" are a popular dive haven. I was always taken care of and helped with my equipment. An experience I would like to repeat. Many thanks to Hassan, Ayman and the Blue Reef Dive shop in Yanbu.
Ray East, 2008
"They are a great club and very active."
Eric Mason, 2017
Saad Ibn Muath Street
PADI dive centre.
Tel: +9661 4034376
Fax: +9661 4034376
Tel: +9661 4500365
PO Box 122247
Jeddah KSA 21332
Our thanks to Capt. Victor Organ, Eric Mason and Dr Hasan Ibrahim (Diving Medical Officer at Jubail Armed forces hospital ) for their help and information.
- Red Sea Map
- Road map and chart of all the major dive sites in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti.
- Coral Reef Guide Red Sea
- by Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers, Collins, 384 Pages, Paperback (2012)
Coral Reef Guide Red Sea covers all common species of underwater life of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, you are likely to see while diving or snorkelling. Each species is illustrated with a full-colour photograph and the text gives details of range and characteristic behaviour. A map of good dive sites appears on the inside front cover. Includes jellyfish, corals, nudibranchs, starfish, sea urchins, fishes and turtles. An excellent sea life guide which I always take to the Red Sea
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